More than 6 million households in Ukraine are still experiencing power outages, two days after targeted Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. “As of tonight, blackouts continue in most regions [of Ukraine] and in Kyiv. More than 6 million subscribers in total,” Zelensky said in his late-night speech on Friday. The number of affected households had been “halved” since Wednesday. He said about 600,000 people had power cuts in Kiev, the capital, affecting the regions of Odessa, Lviv, Vinnytsia and Dnipropetrovsk were also among the hardest hit regions as temperatures approached freezing.
The European Union will step up its efforts to support Ukraine for the repair and maintenance of electricity and heating, said the head of the European Commission on Friday. Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement after a telephone conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the EU’s executive arm was preparing to deliver large donations from EU countries and the reserves of the EC to Ukraine.
Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed 15 civilians on Friday, officials said, as engineers across the country attempted to restore heat, water and power in major cities. Several “private houses and high-rise buildings” were damaged, city official Galyna Lugova also said. The shelling of Kherson, a key eastern city recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, was the deadliest Russian bombing in recent days. Yarovslav Yanushovich, head of Kherson’s military administration, said Russian troops “opened fire on a residential area with multiple rocket launchers.”
Hungarian President Katalin Novak travels to Kiev to meet Volodymyr Zelenskiy, its Ukrainian counterpart, the website index.hu reported on Friday, adding that Novak would be traveling via Poland by train. The Hungarian president’s office said it would not deny or confirm the information. Novak, a close ally of Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is said to be the highest-ranking Hungarian politician to visit Zelenskiy since the Russian invasion in February.
Ukraine’s leaders should be “foresighted” to ensure peace, Pope Francis said, suggesting that Kiev should make concessions to end the war with Russia. In an open letter published Friday to mark the nine-month anniversary of the war, the pope praised the strength of the Ukrainians despite the attack. “The world has recognized a brave and strong people, a people that suffers and prays, weeps and struggles, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people.”
Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants have been reconnected to the national grid after the complete loss of off-site power earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. The facilities were all disconnected from the power grid for the first time in Ukrainian history on Wednesday following the latest spate of Russian airstrikes on vital infrastructure. In a statement on Friday, the nuclear watchdog said Ukraine had informed it on Friday that its plants in Rivne, southern Ukraine and Khmelnytskyy had been reconnected. Ukraine reconnected its massive plant in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, Kiev said earlier.
Armenia has asked French President Emmanuel Macron to chair peace talks with Azerbaijan in a new challenge to Vladimir Putin’s increasingly loosening grip on Russia’s regional allies in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine. The snubbing a traditional ally Putin comes straight after his disastrous summit with six former Soviet states.
EU diplomats met Friday evening in an attempt to reach an agreement on a price level at which Russian oil exports could be restricted, according to a report from Bloomberg. European governments have failed so far agreement before the deadline of 5 December. A proposal from the G7 for a limit of $65-$70 per barrel is seen as far too high by some and too low by others.
Angela Merkel has insisted that her position as a lame duck in the last months of her term made it more or less impossible for her to influence Vladimir Putin’s behavior.. The former German chancellor came out defensively and quietly defiant about her inability to change the direction of the Russian president’s decision-making in the run-up to the invasion of Ukrainetells the German news magazine Mirror she was well aware that her ability to negotiate with Putin was minimal, as she was known not to run for a fifth term.
The head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed a former US Navy general works for the group. Responding to a request for comment from the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Prigozhin said on Friday: “There are not many Finnish civilians in the Wagner PMC, about 20 people… They are fighting in a British battalion [as part of Wagner PMC] which is commanded by a US citizen, a former general of the Marine Corps,” said Prigozhin, as quoted by the press service of his company Concord.
Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report